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Rewarding work: Recognition programs that pay dividends

Reward and recognition programs are often first on the chopping block in tough economic conditions, so it's up to HR ensure returns on a company's investment. We speak to EMMA NICOLLE of RedBalloon, JAN PACAS of Hilti and RICHARD LAIDLAW of Stockland for their thoughts on R&R programs that work.

Video transcript below:

Stephanie Zillman, HC Online
Stephanie Zillman:
 Hello, I’m Stephanie Zillman and you are watching HC TV. In uncertain economic times, employee reward and recognition programs are often the first to get the axe as company leaders look to cut costs.  Emma Nicole of Red Balloon says business should take into account the return on investment before doing anything drastic.

Emma Nicole, Red Balloon
Emma Nicolle:  I often come up against pushback from leaders and financial operations about the return on investment for reward programs.  It’s often the first thing to, you know get in sights when people are making budget cuts and I actually think this is you know a really dangerous game to be playing.  So Watson Whyte in Forbes Magazine has been quoted to show that organisations that have an effective recognition program actually deliver on average 109% return to shareholders compared to those organisations that don’t and they have an average return of 52%.
 
Stephanie Zillman:  Jan Pacas of Hilti says the key to creating a rewards program that works is tailoring it to the individual.  
 
Jan Pacas:  It’s important you know that if somebody really puts in an extra effort, continuously reward him for it.  Continuously doesn’t have to be big things, continuously invite him for a dinners, continuously give him whatever tickets to the cinema, continuously, I often now I have a manager in Western Australia who is Scottish.  He is very tight in money, so he always says Jan let me invite you for a coffee and we have done that  6 times but I always ended up paying.  So what I gave him now when I flew to Perth, I bought him a wallet.  And it’s a small thing, it’s a small joke, but it’s very sincere and it’s kind of personal and I think you know we do those things a lot.
 
Richard Laidlaw, Stockland
Richard Laidlaw:  We are working on the kind of benefits that our people are looking at as they move through different stages of their lives.  So having a flexible leave policy to allow you to look after sick children or sick parents is equally important.  So I think people like being in the organisation, but they do have a need for flexibility around the different needs they have, rather than us just having one policy that fits everybody.
 
Stephanie Zillman: So how can HR professionals engineer sustainable reward and recognition policies. Emma Nicolle of Red Balloons say a packet of tim tams in the communal kitchen probably won’t cut it.
 
Emma Nicolle: If someone had sat back and thought, “okay I have this packet to spend on engagement, on recognition, how am I going to spend it”.  The return from those tim tams, yes they might be generating some happy people around the office in you know in the short term, but then they become expected and once they become expected they are not actually delivering, so I think the really canny and dynamic businesses are those that are keeping their recognition mix really fresh.  They are shaping it up in different ways, maybe every month or every quarter and they are keeping people on their toes and they are keeping that surprise and excitement level going.
 
Stephanie Zillman: For more on rewards and recognition and other HR issues, click around HC Online.  I’m Stephanie Zillman and I will see you again soon on HC TV.